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Boston-area apartment rents remain high heading into the spring despite coronavirus

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Just when so many tenants and prospective tenants could use a break, the numbers hold steady

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The novel coronavirus pandemic has upended so much of the rental market in the Boston area in so many ways, including the job and income losses among tenants, the threat of evictions because of those losses, and the very ways that apartments are leased.

Yet early indications suggest that rents overall will remain where they’ve long been: high.

The latest figures supporting that come from real estate research and listings site Zumper. The site crunched median apartment rents in two dozen Boston-area cities and towns based on vacant and available apartments in their own database during March. It’s not a complete snapshot of the market, but it’s a pretty solid bird’s-eye.

What does that bird see? Notable year-over-year gains in median one- and two-bedroom apartment rents in already-expensive markets such as Cambridge, Boston proper, and Brookline. There were also sizable gains in Everett (due in large part to the Encore Boston Harbor casino-resort there), Waltham, Somerville, and Medford. See the chart below from the Zumper report.

There are, of course, many reasons why rents in the area remain so high—not least the sales market, with its own hefty costs, and a historically low supply amid steady demand.